Monthly Archives: January 2015

2 Corinthians 5.1-10

Title: Confidence in our Future

Text: 2 Corinthians 4.16-5.10

CIT: What struggles we endure now are so very temporary. A clear understanding of just how temporary this life is spurs us to share what we know to be true with the hopes that others can be saved, too.

Introduction: Fred Smith’s Blog, The Gathering, this past week was entitled: The Measure of a Man. How odd it is to consider the elements that go into the make-up of a person, the variables that change him and make him who he is. It seems to me that every time I read Fred’s blog I learned something new about him. This past week I learned that his dad lost the use of his right arm in an accident that he had as a little boy. Fred’s father, when he was just a little boy, slipped and fell and cut his arm on a mason jar filled with peaches. That cut was deep and severed the nerve in his right arm. His father had to have surgery and as it would turn out the surgeon was drunk and botched the surgery. The result was a young boy who basically lost the use of his right hand.

Fred’s father never really seem to view himself as handicapped. He understood that he could not use his right arm and so learn to compensate for the difference. He couldn’t catch or throw with his right arm but he could still run and kick.

Fred and his wife was cleaning out some old boxes came across an old red carpenters pencil that his dad used to mark his wood before you would make cuts. His motto was: measure twice, cut once. He also came across a plaque that simply had the word think on it. Fred’s dad had received that plaque as an award from IBM many years before. Both the pencil and the plaque brought back fond memories of Fred’s father and Fred was reminded of the impact his dad made you not only his life, but in the lives of many others. Fred remembered his father using a carpenter’s pencil to make many things. He remembered that plaque hanging on the wall – not as a symbol of success, but rather as a declaration – think before you act.

What is it that makes us men? What is it that brings value to us as people? I wonder sometimes if we find our value in many of the wrong things? We judge a person by the clothes that they wear or the vehicle they drive. We apply social status to folks because of position or wealth. We admire and honor athletes because of their speed, agility and strength. Magazines are filled with the young and the beautiful and credibility is given to celebrities when they address social and cultural struggles. I’m amazed at how people are moved when George Clooney makes a comment about global warming or Leonardo DiCaprio addresses political issues like they are the experts.

Well, that’s neither here nor there. Fred closes his article pointing his readers to a genuine life lived that has impressed the important things of life upon others:

Because Mom and Dad grew up in poverty they had few treasures to pass on to their children. Later in life they bought a number of expensive items they wanted to give us as heirlooms. Of course, we appreciated the gesture but had no interest in those. We wanted the pencils and the plaques – the things that carried our stories and our memories.

It’s probably the same for you. None of us really want the china as much as we want the mixing bowl. We want the common things that not only remind us of our family but of who we are as well. They make us whole and our memories intact.

For anyone else this plaque and pencil would have no value at all, but these two items now hanging on the wall of my study remind me of my father’s character and his values – and what he overcame in life.

In some ways, today’s passage asks the same question: What is the measure of a man? This passage has confused many scholars who think that Paul was addressing certain Gnostic teaching and, understandably so. Some say he was for it and others against. But I don’t think that’s the issue here at all. The Gnostics taught that the body and soul were separate. They taught that a man could keep his soul pure and yet indulge his body in immoral and unethical practices. But that’s not anywhere near what Paul is trying to communicate to these people. Instead, Paul offers us a contrast between the temporary, earthly substance and the eternal, heavenly unseen. He speaks of the perishable body that is passing away and the imperishable soul that is being renewed day by day. Paul’s confidence in the future hasn’t anything to do with his intellect or his celebrity, but rather with what he knows to be true. Let me show you how I’ve outlined this text:

Simply put, Paul shows us his confidence in the future by giving us:

  1. Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:
  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building
  1. Two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:
  • The one groans and yearns for the other
  • The Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.
  1. Two expressions of our faith:
  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged

Transition: Let’s look at this 1st section v 16-18 of chapter 4 – the Two Examples.

Paul shows us his confidence in the future by giving us:

1.     Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet: rd 4.16; His confidence, So we do not lose heart. And then you have the 1st example;

  • The outer man and the inner man; and explains in v 17-18; the outer man is wasting away through suffering and persecution, but somehow, the inner man is being renewed day by day! How? He fully comprehends the difference between the two!
    • One is momentary – the other is eternal
    • One is light – the other is a weight that is beyond comparison
    • One is affliction – The other is Glory
    • One is transient – The other is eternal

How? He fully comprehends the difference between the now and the not yet.

App.: Let me ask you a question this morning: Do you? Do you know the difference? He gives us a 2nd example in v1 of the next chapter (5): rd v 1;

  • The tent and the building;
    • An earthly tent – A heavenly building; You’re probably thinking of your family tent and your home. That’s a good comparison. But, these people see this reference; the children of Israel traveled out of Egypt and wondered in the desert carrying the ark of God; It was set up in a Tent. That transient tent was no comparison to the Tremendous building they now saw in the Temple in Jerusalem.
    • One is made of perishable material – the other is an eternal, God-made building;
    • One can be destroyed – the other can not

Two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:

  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building

Transition: Now Paul gives us two experiences; look with me in v 2-4;

 

2.     Two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:

  • The one groans and yearns for the other; in the flesh, we groan, we yearn for the other; Paul has mentioned this to us before, in his letter to the Romans: rd 8.18-23;

Ill.: As believers, there is an experience that non-believers cannot comprehend. They cannot understand how we long for and even groan for the eternal home of heaven. The suffering is like birthing pains – yes, it is hard; however, we know there is a joy for us that is just beyond this light, momentary suffering.

Now that’s the 1st experience listed by Paul. Note the 2nd experience for the believer and we see it here in Romans 8.23, as well as 2 Cor 5.5;

  • The Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal. This matches Paul’s teaching elsewhere; Eph 1.13-14;

Listen, there is no other experience than this one that is promised to you when you become a Christian.

  • You hear the Word of Truth – the Gospel of your salvation
    • God is holy
    • You and I have rebelled against His holiness.
    • The punishment for your unholiness, for your rebellion is death; as God told Adam and Eve, You shall surely die; Romans 6.23 – The wages of sin is death, but here’s the good news…
    • The Gospel, The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, who paid that penalty. He was crucified on a cross for that sin. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us. For by his stripes we have been healed.

Appeal: If you have never accepted Christ as your Lord, I offer him to you today. Right here right now, you can know what I’ve been talking about! You’ll understand what I mean when I refer to Paul’s two examples and you’ll comprehend what I’m saying when I tell of the two experiences Paul mentions here. Furthermore, You’ll get the two expressions of our faith.

3.     Two expressions of our faith: rd v 6-8;

  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold; We know we live in this tent, but we deeply desire and long for home.

Ill.: Phil 1.12-26 is a parallel passage; Our suffering leads others to Christ. I don’t want to suffer, but I want others to come to Christ. I’d rather be with Jesus, at home in glory; however, my time here is well spent.

But there is a 2nd expression of faith – obedience; rd v 9-10;

  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged; So people see this as a fear tactic. It’s only a fear tactic if you’re living in disobedience.

Ill.: if you’re taking a test, you’re only scared if you haven’t studied. But, if you’re fully prepared, you’re excited.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware of the fear of standing before the Lord. But Christians don’t have to fear hell. Paul has already told the Corinthians this earlier:

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12–15)

I think of many today who see that this life is all that there is. Live it up in the moment because there is nothing more. Many who see this life as all there is put great value on looks and possessions and prestige and position and power. But Christians know better: They know the measure of a man isn’t his good looks and charm or his fame and his fortune.

  1. They understand the two examples which contrast the now and the not yet:
  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building
  1. They have known these two experiences born out of suffering and persecution in this life:
  • Where the one groans and yearns for the other
  • Where the Holy Spirit has given as a guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.
  1. They have lived out these two expressions of our faith:
  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judged

So, let’s close today’s message with some thoughts:

  1. Do not let the struggles of this life or the suffering we endure through weakness communicate to you that God is absent in our message. For we are confident in our eternal future which inspires and motivates us to share this message of hope in spite of our temporary suffering.
  2. Christian: Stop living in this moment like it is all we have. Instead, start living like this is all momentary and temporary and our future far out weighs whatever this day brings. It saddens me when believers freak out about temporary things. Like a vapor it appears for a moment and then it is gone.
  3. Stop living like there are no consequences for disobedience and start living like you will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the life you’ve lived. You and I will all stand before the Bema seat – the Judgment seat of Christ. Will what you lay at his feet survive or be burned up, as with by fire?
  4. If you have never committed your life to Christ – would you do so today?
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2 Corinthians 6.3-13

Title: So, You Want to Serve the Lord?

Text: 2 Corinthians 6.3-13

Introduction: We begin with v 3 in ch. 6 today, by way of an introduction. Paul writes: We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: … and then he lists these struggles. I think this is Paul’s thesis statement for this passage. He’s been doing his best to defend his ministry against the accusations that have come from what appears to be outsiders.

The Gk vb translated “fault” here also conveys the suggestion of mocking and ridicule. In the NICNT – Philip Hughes suggests that Paul may very well have had this idea in mind, including the thought of being made a laughing-stock, and it may well be that Calvin had this implication of the term in mind when commenting that nothing is more ridiculous than striving to maintain your reputation before others, while you invite reproach upon yourself by a shameful and base life.

It’s one thing for Christians to strive to maintain a life that mirrors their profession, but preachers must attain to an even higher standard. Any conflict between what they say and the life they live brings reproach upon themselves. Listen to Calvin – I’m quoting from the NICNT: it is an artifice of Satan to seek some misconduct on the part of ministers which may tend to the dishonor of the Gospel; for when he has been successful in bringing the ministry into contempt, all hope of progress is destroyed: therefore the man who wishes to serve Christ with usefulness must apply himself with all possible diligence to preserve the honor of his ministry.

So, the minister of God is attacked no matter what. If he lives in a house to small in an area where the poor live, he’s criticized. If he lives in a nice home in a wealthy neighborhood, he’s criticized. If he drives a beater, he’s criticized. If he drives a new car, he’s criticized.

Also, when hearing the preaching of repentance, the offended often try to sully those who are confronting them. The preaching of the cross of Christ is offensive. Why did Christ die? Was it not for our sins? People don’t want to hear they’re sinners! People want to be comforted, especially in their shame. They want to find those who agree and give validation to their shame. But I don’t think Paul is really so worried about his reputation, as he is about the reputation of his ministry. Garland, author of the NAC on 2 Corinthians says: the apostle is not concerned about his own personal reputation, but the reputation of the ministry and its effectiveness. The censure he dreads does not come from humans but from God. To be discredited before humans is one thing; to be discredited before God is quite another. People inevitably find fault with human ministers, and trying to avoid this by ministering “defensively,” skirting around anything that might evoke possible criticism, will still meet with criticism. Worse, a ministry directed by what others might think is so neutralized that it is ultimately worthless to God.

Paul defends himself by presenting a defense to the Corinthians. At 1st I asked why? Why didn’t he just leave off in v 2? It would have been a great place to transition. No, Paul had been questioned, maligned and falsely accused when being compared to these super apostles. He needed to make:

1st, a declaration of what he is willing to endure as a minister of God in vs 3-5.

2ndly, Paul lists those spiritual qualities he had worked so hard to cultivate in his ministry in vs 6-7.

And 3rdly, Paul then gives a list of 9 opposites or paradoxes if you will, on the perspective others have of him as a minister (8b-10). Let’s begin with this list of struggles. I’ve entitled this 1st section as:

1.     What the Minister of God Endures in his service to God: (3-5)

exp.: rd v 3-4a; διακονία, διάκονοι; A triad of struggles by way of great endurance:

  1. General Struggles – the topics
    1. Afflictions
    2. Hardships
    3. Calamities

ill.: General struggles; nothing he wasn’t warned about when Christ 1st called him. Jesus sent Ananias to minister to this man named Saul. Ananias didn’t want to go; however, Christ said: Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. Suffering came through people who afflicted, tortured and mistreated him. Hardships came through imprisonment and other times of struggle. Calamities came through storms, being ship wrecked and marooned on an island. He doesn’t go into detail here, he simply makes this short list of generalities.

Then, he gives us a 2nd triad. This one of struggles brought about by others.

  1. Bullies – mistreatment; struggles brought on by outside human forces.
    1. Beatings – Paul tells us he was in 11.23ff – … with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. We read about this stoning in Acts 14. 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. In Act 16 we read about a certain beating: 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Which is the 2nd struggle in this triad:
    2. Imprisonments: Added to the humiliation of beatings, Paul would often be thrown into prison. We know he spent two years in Caesarea before being shipped off to Rome, where he spent another two years as a prisoner waiting for his appeal to be heard before Caesar. 3rdly, he mentions…
    3. Riots: in many of the cities where Paul ministered, the Leadership of the Jews would be filled with Jealousy at the conversion of their people. Inciting the people with venomous lies, they would attack Paul and those with him. Other times it was those whose wallets felt the impact of a changed life. Idol makers would be affected by the loss of sales. These men did much of the same as the Jews, inciting literally, thousands of people. In Acts 17 one of the leaders cries: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

Paul lists general struggles, struggles of mistreatment through beatings, imprisonment and riots and then the struggles that come from the decision to follow Christ. I call these self-inflicted.

  1. Self-inflicted or Willingly sacrificing to be able to minister
    1. Labors: I’m pretty sure he’s referring to both of his jobs as a Bi-vocational minister. He would make tents with his friends Aquila and Pricilla, and minister the Word of God in the community when the opportunity presented itself.
    2. Sleepless nights: I’m guessing his sleepless nights might have been something I’ve experienced many times. We know of the instance in the Philippian jail cell, where he and others with him were praying and singing hymns to God. Praying through the long dark hours of the night, Paul would take his requests to God and beg for his intercession.
    3. Hunger: I feel confident that Paul set aside times to fast and pray. But I’m sure there were other times when traveling and working when food wasn’t available.

ill.: We had a similar experience on our trip to make contact with our UUPG: up in the mountains, nowhere near a place to eat, Lisa saved us by breaking out all kinds of bars and snacks for some essential nutritional consumption!

t.s.: Paul gives us a series of struggles – 9 to be specific. Next, Paul moves to a set of spiritual qualities – also 9 in number. So, point # 2…

2.     What the Minister of God Cultivates in his life through ministry (6-7)

exp.: Paul lists these 9 spiritual or internal qualities he had worked so hard to cultivate in his ministry. (rd v 6-7)

  1. Purity
  2. Knowledge
  3. Patience
  4. Kindness
  5. The Holy Spirit, in a spirit of holiness (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
  6. Genuine Love, in a love that is unhypocritical
  7. Truthful Speech, in speech that is truthful
  8. The power of God, in power that is of God
  9. Righteousness in both hands – actions
    1. Internal quality as well as an external experience.

ill.: I think of my life and how as a young man. These qualities were not evident. Impure, ignorant, impatient, unkind, unholy, I loved only myself, I was a liar – a good one, The power of God? – no, I lived by my own, weak generic power – as an unrighteous man.

app.: I’m so grateful that God didn’t leave me that way. When I preach repentance, Satan always has a way of telling me that I’m not worthy. He shows me who I was and how faithless and rebellious I was. But there is something about the forgiveness of God that washes all that away. Like Paul, I can stand and say, I’m not who I was. And, I hope you’ll come to the end of yourself, if you’re lost today and find that same forgiveness. God can change you, too, and begin the process of making these qualities a part of your life.

t.s.: There is a final section here, in what I’ve called…

3.     What the Minister of God Experiences from others (8-10)

exp.: rd 8-10

  • through honor (glory) and dishonor,
  • through slander (defamation) and praise (a good report).

ill.: the Preacher’s Commentary Series – My own service for the Lord has been relatively free of the type of abuse which Paul suffered, but in different ways I believe I’ve experienced some of the feelings he had at that time. I well recall one particular occasion when I was under attack for certain of my views. Some of those who disagreed with me began to spread the word that I didn’t believe the Bible.

I paid little attention to the accusations. But then one day one of the ladies of the church appeared at my study and asked, “Pastor, I’ve come to see if you believe the Bible.”

When I asked what had prompted her question, I was told that she had been attending a Bible study in another church, and when the leader, who had found that she was from the church where I was the pastor, had asked, “How can you stay in a church where the pastor doesn’t believe the Bible?”

She had been a member of the church for over six years and had heard me preach and teach the Scriptures on a fairly regular basis. So I asked her, “In all the years you have listened to me, have you ever heard me say anything that would raise the slightest doubt concerning the Bible’s inspiration or authority?” Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “No, I haven’t, but he seemed like such a spiritual man I couldn’t imagine his saying something that wasn’t true.” My emotions ranged from being angry at that “spiritual man” who attempted to undermine confidence in me and a feeling of sadness for the woman who in her immaturity and gullibility was so easily taken in by irresponsible criticism.

We are treated…

  • as impostors (deceitful, leading astray), and yet are true;
  • as unknown (not being recognized – (I don’t know the face), and yet well known (being recognized);
  • as dying, and behold, we live;
  • as punished (being punished), and yet not killed (being put to death); 10 
  • as sorrowful (grieving), yet always rejoicing;
  • as poor (one who crouches or cowers, beggarly) greatly (this adjective isn’t in the English), very poor, yet making many rich;
  • as having nothing, yet possessing everything (all things possessing).

app.: Paul began with: We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry and in conclusion: 11 We have spoken freely to you (play on words: our mouths are open to you), Corinthians; our heart is wide open (perf. Pass.). 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

Conclusion: this past week I was reading in Mark 10(.17-31) and was so moved at three different places. This rich young ruler runs up to Jesus and knells before him. Wow, what deep humility. V 21 – Jesus, looking at him, loved him.

The Man’s seeking, his attitude

The love of Jesus – his speaking truth

What we have to look forward to… who will not receive in this lifetime 100 fold!

I have received these things because believers have shared. I’ve stayed in nice homes, cabins, boats, taken world-wide trips, I’ve skied, I’ve ridden horses and 4-wheelers and motorcycles and in nice cars. But look at that last one: persecutions.

Jesus said: in this life you will have tribulation. Paul said: all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted.

Observations:

  1. Paul has endured immense struggles to bring them the Gospel. What would we endure for others to bring them the Gospel?
  2. Have you thought through the inner, spiritual qualities you possess? And, are you cultivating them in your life? Purity, Knowledge, Patience, Kindness, holiness, unconditional, unhypocritical Love, truthfulness, the power of God, Righteousness
  3. When you are mistreated, how do you see that treatment? It’s a matter of perspective.

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WORLD | A widow’s reminder | Chelsea Kolz Boes | Jan. 22, 2015

Chelsea Kolz Boes is a wonderful writer. I loved her latest article – not because she’s so mushy – but because of how she relates her life to the Word of God. The following was taken from her. Enjoy.

Taken from: WORLD | A widow’s reminder | Chelsea Kolz Boes | Jan. 22, 2015.

I’ve started thinking about Barbara again—because I’m starting to feel like her. I knew the old woman summers ago, when I used to sit in her huge, creaking house and keep her and her husband, Jim, company as part of an after-school initiative to connect kids with the elderly.

Added together, their ages nearly reached 200. Jim was unwell—missing a leg, eyes degenerating, hearing slow. Barbara circled him like an avid bird. She changed the position of his wheelchair. She waited on him, carrying cups of tea in from the kitchen and portioning out dinners from the Meals on Wheels containers. She applied the clumsy prosthesis to his stump knee with infinite patience, always smiling. Sickness and health, she was happy just to be with her Jim.

Jim and Barbara never had children, and they thought of me as an adopted grandchild. I didn’t feel like I deserved this distinction, since I’d done nothing but show up in their living room once a month, sit in a chair overgrown with cat hair, and surf with them through the long silences.

Jim died after my first summer with them, shortly before Easter. Not knowing that Jim was gone, my mother and I pulled into their driveway to make a lightning-quick visit. Barbara approached us from the house, her blue eyes looking like a sea had flowed through them. She wrapped her arms around my neck, and said, “Oh, I miss him. But tomorrow we will go to church and celebrate the one who gives”—she paused, her early dementia robbing her for a moment the words she sought—“eternal life.”

During my second college summer I returned to Barbara’s house to take care of her. She paid me to help her sort through the big house—an impossible task. Barbara wore her widowhood with grace. But she was very much a widow. I remember one morning making her bed and finding one of Jim’s holey T-shirts hidden under the covers, deducing that she had been sleeping with it. I was 20 by then and had come freshly from a romantic heartbreak myself. But I knew I couldn’t understand Barbara’s pain. She told me, “I just—I got used to him.”

This week I’m taking my first work trip away from my husband—compared to Barbara’s widowhood, a raindrop in the sea. As soon as I decided to go, I began imagining Jonathan and me like two pins in a map. How far had we traveled apart from each other, even in the time before our acquaintance? For we, I increasingly feel, constitute more than our combined parts. Something invisible and mighty links us. As I write, I haven’t even said good-bye yet. But I’ve already cried five times.

I chuckle at myself for this. But I’m pretty sure I’ll start blubbering again when I flip on the playlist Jonathan compiled for my trip. And I keep thinking of Barbara. Is it any wonder James called pure and undefiled religion the visiting of the widow?

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The Ministry of Reconciliation

Title: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Text: 2 Corinthians 5.11-6.2

Introduction: *Pause the recording – I got an email from our contact this week.

Hey Calvary Friends!

I just wanted to give you a brief update on the work among the *UUPG. Last week Brother Five (from the video) brought his 5 y/o son to K* because he had a high fever.  Our team member Noel took him to the international clinic to see an American doctor who was able to diagnose an ear infection and give him the proper antibiotics.  While in K*, he shared that on Christmas Eve he and the local M’s were celebrating Christmas with some *UUPG villagers and they shared the Christmas story in the context of Creation to Christ. They decided that they didn’t want to do a “hard sell”, but just share the meaning of Christmas because they are Christians.  God had other plans in mind.  Three *UUPG men asked them later, “if this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what must we do about it?”  Praise the Lord that we now have three new *UUPG brothers!

Can I say, that Monday morning during my quiet time I was just freaking out! Our *UUPG Brothers were practicing what is called The Ministry of Reconciliation.

This passage in 2 Corinthians is a clarification of just what The Ministry of Reconciliation is. I’ve taken Paul’s passage and divided it into four parts:

  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our Mission.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is evident in why we do it: Our Motive.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is defined by our service: Our Ministry.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is put in to practice in our words: Our Message.

Transition: Let’s begin with The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our Mission.

1.     Our Mission (11)

exp.: We Persuade others; rd v 11a; this verb gives us direction for where we’re headed. The context of this entire passage is that Paul has been keeping his eye on the future. He knows where he is headed if and when he dies. He knows he is weak – a jar of clay, carrying a valuable message – message of hope. Last week our focus was upon the future: Paul’s confidence in the future. You might remember he gave:

Two Examples demonstrating the contrast of the now and the not yet:

  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building

            Two Experiences of suffering and persecution in this life demonstrating this reality:

  • The inner man groans and yearns for Heaven . Groaning
  • The Holy Spirit is given as a Guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.

            Two Expressions of our faith is seen clearly through

  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold And 2nd,
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judge – people live as though there really is a heaven.

So, in light of all this – we persuade others! It’s what we do! Being viewed as weak – we persuade others. Being persecuted – we persuade others. It’s what we do!

The Ministry of Reconciliation is clear in our work – our mission. If our mission is what we do, then our Motivation is why we do it. So we see 2ndly, that The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in:

2.     Our Motive (11-13)

exp.: Look at v 11a; knowing the fear of the Lord; this isn’t communicating a scare tactic; This isn’t anything like what you see in the conversion tactics of Islamic radicals or the Muslim extremist;

ill.: I went and saw American Sniper Friday night. The Language is atrocious, and if you ever served in the American Armed forces, you probably have an idea of how bad it was. The violence, extreme. War is. In the movie, we meet again some of the leaders of the Islamic Regime: Abu Musab al-Zarkawi and his right hand man. This #2 guy who name I’m not even going to try to pronounce, would use a drill to torture his own people with to get them to comply with his demands.

App.: We fear the Lord, but meaning is different. Proverbs 1.7; 4.7; 9.10; Ps 111.10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! What moves us is the deep respect and awe we have for our Father in Heaven. And, he notes that it’s not just knowing the fear of the Lord, rd v 11b; This is a basic reminder of what he’s already told them in 4.2: But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And just so you’re not confused: rd v 12; Our motivation is:

  1. Knowing the fear of the Lord
  2. Not you! We’re not commending ourselves to you, again; v12
  3. We’re not doing this to look good on the outside. Rd v13
  4. No this is all about God, no matter what that might look like! No, what we are and what we do is known to God! And that’s what’s important to us; that’s what motivates us to persuade others.

Transition: The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our mission; it is evident in why we do it: Our motivation; 3rdly, The Ministry of Reconciliation is defined by our service: Our Ministry.

3.     Our Ministry (14-19)

exp.: In v14-19, Paul gives the Corinthians three effects Christ’s love has on us; rd v 14;

  1. The Love of Christ Controls Us – v14-15; this word is a hard word to understand in English;
  • hold together, sustain τὶ someth. (Ael. Aristid. 43, 16 K.=1 p. 6 D.: τὰ πάντα ς.; PTebt. 410, ll. Cf. IG XIV 1018 to Attis συνέχοντι τὸ πᾶν [s. CWeyman, BZ 14, ’17, 17f]; PGM 13, 843. Other exx. in Cumont3 230, 57; Wsd 1:7; Aristobulus in Euseb., Pr. Ev. 13, 12, 12; Philo; Jos., C. Ap.2, 208) συνέχει αὐτὴ (i.e. ἡ ψυχή) τὸ σῶμα Dg 6:7. Pass. 1 Cl 20:5.
  • close by holding (together) , stop trans., shut (στόμα Ps 68:16; Is 52:15. The heavens, so that there is no rain Dt 11:17; 3 Km 8:35) συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν Ac 7:57.
  • press hard, crowd τινά someone Lk 8:45. Of a city (2 Macc 9:2) οἱ ἐχθροί σου συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν 19:43.— Phil 1.23: I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
  • hold in custody (Lucian, Tox. 39; PMagd. 42, 7; PLille 7, 15 [III bc]) Lk 22:63.
  • of untoward circumstances seize, attack, distress, torment

I think a good way to define this for us would be to think of control, as in he has reigned us in and controls us like a man on a horse with a bridle; rd v 14a;

Kent Hughes: The primary focus was on Christ’s love for us and not our love for him. The belief that on the Cross Christ acted on behalf of the whole human race became the foundation of Paul’s thinking and action. When the implication of the statement, “He died for all” (v. 15), began to get hold of Paul, it changed permanently his feeling about every person in the world. The fact that every person he met was the object of God’s eternal love and was one for whom Christ died defined the nature of his ministry. This is why Paul’s evangelism never exploited or manipulated people. He had come to love them the way Christ did.

App.: When you come to the same conclusion as Paul, your Philosophy of evangelism is solidified: We become like Ezekiel 33.11, where God said11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Transition: We know the fear of the Lord and we know his control over us, leading us ever onward to persuade others to follow Him, too: The Love of Christ Controls Us, 2ndly –

  1. The Love of Christ Changes Us – v16-17; Not only has the Love of Christ brought us under his Control, but it has changed us. I’m not who I used to be! Like a caterpillar compared to a beautiful butterfly, I too have been changed. I see that so clearly, So, I don’t regard myself or my savior in the same manner as I used to do. Nor do I see others the same way. People are more than just the flesh you see. People are more than the glitter and the gold – there is a soul in there with a destiny. I want to be a part of the change!
  2. The Love of Christ Commissions Us – v18-19:
    1. All of this is from God: it’s not man made!
      1. Through Christ, He reconciled us to him
      2. And gave us the ministry of reconciliation!

Transition: and He commissions us to take this message – this is our message –

4.     Our Message (20-6.2)

exp.: Then, He entrusted us with this same message of reconciliation! Rd v 20; Oh, be reconciled to God: He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked might turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die? rd v 21 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. The theological term for this is Justification. Wayne Grudem writes in his book Systematic Theology about the need for justification in our lives:

First, when Adam sinned, his guilt was imputed to us; God the Father viewed it as belonging to us, and therefore it did. Second, when Christ suffered and died for our sins, our sin was imputed to Christ; God thought of it as belonging to him, and he paid the penalty for it. Now in the doctrine of justification we see imputation for the third time. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and therefore God thinks of it as belonging to us. It is not our own righteousness but Christ’s righteousness that is freely given to us. So Paul can say that God made Christ to be “our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). And Paul says that his goal is to be found in Christ, “not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). Paul knows that the righteousness he has before God is not anything of his own doing; it is the righteousness of God that comes through Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21–22).

And then Paul brings the Gospel home in 6.1-2; Read; Today! I implore you today, to seize this auspicious occasion and come to Christ. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. He made him to be sin who knew no sin: God is Holy. Infinitely Holy – Pure.
  2. Do you remember when I quoted Grudem: Adam sinned, his guilt was imputed to us; God the Father viewed it as belonging to us, and therefore it did.
  3. For our sake he made him to be sin. That is, when Christ suffered and died for our sins, our sin was imputed to Christ; God thought of it as belonging to him, and he paid the penalty for it.
  4. Now, you don’t have to have Christ pay the penalty for your sin. You can do that yourself. The punishment – eternal death. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what Hell is.
  5. Story of the Bai Yi. Three Bai Yi men asked them later, “if this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what must we do about it?”  Praise the Lord that we now have three new Bai Yi brothers!
  6. I would say: Since this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what will you do about it?

Conclusion: Invitation to come to Christ; in a moment, Chris will come and lead us in praise. This is your opportunity to respond.

Observations & Implications:

  1. As you see Paul’s passion here, ask yourself if you have a similar passion to see people saved? If so, how is that evident? In what ways is that demonstrated?
  2. When you witness, and I’m assuming you do, Can you articulate the Gospel as succinctly as Paul has? If you can’t, would you respond this morning and ask one of the elders to help you learn this?
  3. Is anyone offended or bothered by your witness and persistence? Include God in that survey. There comes a time when you must make a verbal appeal for someone to accept Christ. You turn to them and ask, would you like to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior? Would you like to ask Him to forgive you of your sins.

So, Our invitation is for you to respond:

1st, to Christ

2nd, to evangelize those around you

3rd, you’re looking for a church home. You like what you see and want to get involved.

4th, God is placing a call to ministry on your life.

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Genesis 33.1-20

Title: To Nearly Obey is Not Enough

Text: Genesis 33.1-20

Introduction: Tell me about Jacob to this point. Chapter 32 seems to have been a life-changing experience.

1.     Jacob goes out to meet his brother, bowing himself to the ground (rd 1-3)

  1. 401 men! How many chairs in here?
  2. The one who stole the birthright declaring his brothers would bow down to him is now the one bowing.

2.     An emotional meeting as Jacob introduces his family (4-7); rd v 4;

  1. His brother’s response! Very emotional. When’s the last time you saw your siblings? June of ’76 for one of mine. Spring of ’80 for another; Talked to Fred tonight, it was three years ago
  2. Jacob explains his prosperity
    1. Starting with the lowest:
    2. Ending w/ Joseph & Rachel

3.     Jacob explains his gift to Esau and makes restitution (8-11) rd v8;

  1. I have enough – 9a
    1. Favor – 10a
      1. Accept my present – 10b
        1. Seen your face – 10c
        2. Seeing the face of God – 10d
      2. Accept my blessing – 11a
    2. Grace – 11b
  2. 11c – I have enough

4.     Esau desires to travel with Jacob, but Jacob makes a clean break from his brother; however, he isn’t quite honest about it all. (12-16)

  • Let us be on our way, I’ll go ahead of you; 12; Question: Jacob’s response? Totally honest?
  • Let me leave some of my people with yours; rd v 15; v 16

5.     Jacob journeys to Shechem (18-20)

    1. He lies to his brother about following
    2. He doesn’t go to Bethel, but rather to Shechem and buys land there.

Professor Ian Duguid via R. Kent Hughes: Why was that? What was Jacob doing settling down at Shechem and raising an altar when he should have been continuing on to Bethel to raise the altar there, where he had first had the dream? Did Jacob think that Shechem was a better site for trade and for his flocks? Perhaps he thought it didn’t matter. After all, Bethel was now a mere twenty miles or so away; he could go there whenever it suited him, once he got settled. Why be so precise in these things? Shechem or Bethel—it’s really all the same, isn’t it? Indeed, it is not. Whatever his motivation, Jacob’s compromise and his failure to follow through with complete obedience to what he had vowed would cost him and his family dearly, as we shall see in the following chapter. Almost obedience is never enough. Being in the right ballpark may be sufficient when watching a baseball game, but is not nearly enough when it comes to obeying God. Nothing short of full obedience is required.

Conclusion: New Testament Appropriation (NICOT) – John 4.5-12 tells of the woman at the well who asks if Jesus is greater than their ‘father’ Jacob. Indeed, our New Testament Appropriation would be that Jacob has supplanted Esau and Jesus has supplanted Jacob.

Observations:

  1. God is working out his plan to his perfection.
  2. We think of this moment as so great, but really, there is a greater plan at work through the Messiah.
  3. It’s amazing to think of God’s work in Jacob’s life and the changed man we see.
  4. Almost obeying isn’t really enough.
  5. To obey is better than sacrifice – he erected an altar.

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Genesis 32.1-32

Title: A Wresting Match or Two

Text: Genesis 32.1-32

Introduction: Review of how we got here;

1.     The Wrestling Within

  1. Jacob’s Fear at the Reminder of His Brother (32.3-8)
  2. Jacob’s Elation at the Reminder of God’s Promises (31.55-32.2)
    1. At Laban’s departure and
    2. The sighting of the Angels
  3. Jacob’s request through prayer (32.9-12)
    • Praise
    • Humility/Contrition
    • Supplication
    • Based on Promise
  4. Jacob’s Return to Former Practices
  • Jacob Sends gifts to Esau fit for a king (32.13-20)
  • Jacob Sends his two camps away (22-23)

2.     The Wrestling Without (32.24-32)

  1. Jacob Wrestles with God
  2. Jacob Pleads with God to be Blessed
    1. His name is changed to Israel
    2. He is blessed
  • He now limps
  1. A tradition is born

Hughes Records: Jacob’s life is the story of relentless grace—tenacious grace, contending grace, intrusive grace, renovating grace. Tenacious in that it would not let him go. Contending as it was always battling for his soul. Intrusive, because it would not be shut out. Renovating because it gave him a new limp and a new name.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Too often, our situation and circumstance dictate our response and we forget the promises of God.
  2. I also find it interesting that we can go through a ‘high’ time with God, where he blesses us and leads us through a dark time and yet, forget about it so quickly. Case in point: Elijah;
  3. I wonder if any here are wrestling with God today? You’ve committed your life to him, but continued to manipulate your surroundings to your own advantage. I think the key here is to hold on to God.
  4. There comes a time in our lives when each of us must choose to make the God of our fathers (or mother or grandmother) our God. We wrestle with issues, problems, theology, doctrine, worship, ecclesiology, creation and the list goes on; however, in the end, we must decide for ourselves. We must make God our God.
  5. By his own admission, Jacob had obtained the rights of birth by thievery and deception. Now, he had obtained the blessing of God in the realization that only God could grant it.
  6. I love the tenacious, audacious act of Jacob. It reminds me of Jesus giving us the example of the woman who would not stop pestering the judge until he should grant her request.

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